Finch, Visser plan to establish relationships with multicultural student groups

Candidates said they will not tolerate homophobia on executive team, plan to build relationships with multicultural community members

Sydney+Finch+speaks+during+the+ASWSU+multicultural+debate+on+March+21%2C+in+the+CUB+Senior+Ballroom.

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Sydney Finch speaks during the ASWSU multicultural debate on March 21, in the CUB Senior Ballroom.

LIAM CONNORS, Evergreen reporter

ASWSU presidential and vice-presidential candidates Sydney Finch and Kjelt Visser addressed controversies and plans for improving multicultural engagement in the ASWSU multicultural debate Monday evening.

Experience feeling underrepresented 

Finch shared her experience growing up as a biracial person in Lewiston, Idaho which is a predominantly white area. 

“I’ve learned so much about being a minority and how to best represent the voices of other minorities to make sure that their concerns and voices are heard,” she said.

Visser said he struggled to learn a new language and make friends after immigrating to the U.S. from the Netherlands when he was 4 years old.

“Me, being a green card holder, I’d like to connect with people who have similar struggles to myself,” he said.

Finch said her experience with her faith has made her feel underrepresented at WSU. Because of this, she feels driven to speak for voices on all campuses.

“Personally, I’m a Christian, and it was really hard to come to college and feel that what I believe wasn’t well-represented enough on campus,” Finch said.

Viser said he has noticed a lack of diversity amongst faculty and wants to help fix this problem.

Plans for multicultural engagement

The ASWSU president and vice president are responsible for engaging with the Washington State Legislature. Finch and Visser said they would like to speak on behalf of all students. While they do not know what type of legislation would be most beneficial, they hope to push for things that matter to students.

To create a platform that is fair for all students, Finch and Visser said they plan to appoint a strong director of diversity who will advocate for multicultural groups. They hope this person will go beyond weekly committee meetings and make the conversation about multicultural groups more prominent.

Audience members raised concerns about diversity within Greek life and how people of color are often discriminated against.

Visser said that working with the Interfraternity Council is important when addressing these issues.

Finch said because she is not in Greek life, one of the reasons why Visser is a perfect running mate is his experience within the Greek community and his legislation to address these issues. 

Accountability

Multiple audience members brought up that past elected officials made similar promises to improve outreach and help solve problems within multicultural committees, but they continually failed to do so after they were elected. 

Both tickets expressed disappointment in past false promises and admitted they have not done enough to improve outreach or attend enough meetings.

Finch said she is totally prepared to have conversations with multicultural groups.

“We will be at the meetings, we will establish relationships, we will work to make the fourth floor feel like the third floor,” Finch said.

One audience member asked about a proposed bylaw that would hold the executive staff accountable to actually attend meetings. Finch was not opposed to the bylaw, but because of other required committee meetings, said she thought a bylaw would not be necessary.

Visser’s opinion differed with his running mate; he said he would be willing to work with legislation to have the bylaw passed. 

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Kjelt Visser speaks during the ASWSU multicultural debate on March 21, 2022 in the Compton Union Building Senior Ballroom.

Finch said her experiences attending Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlán meetings have been eye-opening and a great experience.  

“Kjelt and I are super driven people, and if I’m gonna make a commitment to you, I’m gonna get it done,” Finch said.

Visser is confident in his ability to communicate one-on-one with people and wants to establish relationships with those who feel their voices are unheard.

Making ASWSU more diverse 

Finch said her role as ASWSU chief of staff was challenging because there was not a lot of information about the role and duties.

“There’s been a problem in finding people who want to be in student government in the first place, and getting students from all areas on campus to be one large voice has been really challenging,” she said.

Visser said that it took a couple of months to fill up the senate seats.

“We do realize that we want our staff to come from different parts of campus,” Visser said. “Our staff must be diverse and most qualified for the position.”

Homophobia accusations

Finch addressed accusations of homophobia made against her and the executive branch, which all-campus senator Nikolai Sublett brought up in a previous senate meeting.

Finch said the claims made about her are completely false. 

“Some of the people I love the most in the world are in the LGBTQ+ community,” she said. “I have never and will never discriminate against the LGBTQ+ community.”

Finch said she reached out to every person involved in order to clear the air about any miscommunication.

Visser said they will not stand for any type of discrimination in their executive team.

Sublett Question

All-Campus Senator Nikolai Sublett said the candidates advocated for the Crimson Group, which supports undocumented students, after talking with members in the previous meeting.

Sublett said he wanted to informally reach out to the candidates on their Instagram campaign page because he is passionate about representation. However, his account and the two senators who passed legislation for undocumented students were blocked on their campaign page. 

“How do you plan to represent all students if you’ve already implemented your personal bias in such a way that individuals like myself and these two senators cannot even contact you for help and new ideas?” Sublett said. 

Finch said that if Sublett wanted to reach out about this issue specifically, he could have easily reached out to their individual Instagram accounts or emails.

“I’m not saying that people blocked on my page can’t have a conversation with me, I have no problem with being direct and upfront,” Finch said.

Sublett ended his questioning on a high note by asking each ticket about what they respect about each other.

Presidential and vice-presidential candidates Jacob Martinez and Kiana Parsi said they respect both of the candidates’ passion and commended their plan to create a centralized resource website.